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Beaches (Sewage)

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cases of pollution involving raw sewage being found on or near a beach around the English coast have occurred since 2001; if he will list the areas so affected; what action is being taken to eliminate such occurrences; and if he will make a statement. (91836)

The Environment Agency monitors water quality at bathing beaches, and in 2005, 99 per cent. of the 405 coastal bathing waters in England met minimum standards of the EC Bathing Water Directive and 85 per cent. met the stricter guideline standards. This compares to 2001 when 98 per cent. of the 397 bathing waters met minimum standards and 70 per cent. met stricter standards.

Data on the exact number of incidents of sewage pollution affecting beaches are not held by the Department. However, any reports of such pollution are investigated to identify the cause, and action is taken to control the sources of pollution.

The amount spent, or planned to be spent, by water companies for improvements directly to bathing waters in England and Wales, for the period 2000 to 2010, is £223 million. There have also been indirect benefits, mainly from Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive schemes, which have improved levels of sewage treatment. The Environment Agency continues to identify and tackle other problems such as unsatisfactory non-water company sewage discharges and misconnections to surface water drains.